Germany 86 Israel 81

05 September 2003

The favourites from Germany took an expected victory when Euro 2003 tipped off in Norrköping. But Israel got closer and closer at the end of the game. In their hunt for the Germans, they committed too many fouls and failed to get even. Germany won the first game with 86-81.

Stefano Garris (Germany)
There was a nervous start from both teams, more errors than quality moves. Israel made the first championship points by Yakov Green, but eventually the Germans got their game going. Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki had a "band aid" in form of Yoav Saffar, so instead of him, Malaga's Ademola Okulaja led Germany to a comfortable lead, 23-15, after ten minutes.

When the second quarter started, Germany's coach Henrik Dettmann chose to let his best players sit on the bench. Israel responded and shot five straight points. Nowitzki and Okulaja came on the court again. Israel did not have the best concentration in their shots, Germany took many rebounds and attacked with speed. Nevertheless, Israel won the second quarter with one point. But Germany was still the better team.

After the half time break, Germany continued to score the easy points, while Israel had to fight harder for theirs. Both teams were not looking very sharp, and the scoring was low. Israel's Meir Tapiro was the exception and kept his team in the game with some good 3-pointers.

Dirk Nowitzki (Germany)
At the beginning of the last quarter, Germany got an aggressive start. Three straight steals led the Germans from 64-51 to 70-51 and the game looked like it was over. But perhaps the Germans took it a bit too easy, because Israel responded well. They shot well from distance, and soon there was only four points up (80-76) for Germany. But Israel failed to close the whole gap. They conducted too many fouls, Germany scored on free throws and won with 86-81.

"Too bad, we were really close at the end of the game. But we did too many stupid things when we needed our points. But this was still a step forward for us", said Israel's Yoav Saffar.

"My foot still hurts, but I want to play", explained Germany's Ademola Okulaja.

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